Oct 17, 2018
Start-Up Builds First Fully Autonomous Farm By Jasmina Dolce

After years of research and development, Iron Ox, a California-based technology startup, has announced it is launching the world’s first autonomous farm in San Carlos and will start selling its produce soon.

The hydroponic indoor farm relies on two robots to plant, care for and harvest produce. One of the robots, nicknamed Angus, weighs 1,000 pounds and is about the size of a car.

The robots also use machine learning and artificial intelligence to detect pests and diseases. They can remove infected plants before the problem spreads.

Iron Ox co-founders, Brandon Alexander and Jon Binney — alumni of robotics company Willow Garage — realized they wanted to do more with the technology they were developing and saw an opportunity in the agriculture industry.

According to Alexander, Iron Ox is able to do the equivalent of 30 acres of outdoor farming in just a single acre on its robotic farm. The plan is to start selling the produce from the first farm and then expand to additional locations over time.

“Right now fresh produce really isn’t all that fresh. It’s traveling on average 2,000 miles from farm to grocery store, which means a lot of people are eating week-old lettuce or strawberries,” Alexander explained.

Initially, Iron Ox will only grow leafy greens and herbs, but it plans to expand into other crops, like tomatoes, in coming years. The company plans to begin selling its produce later this year.

Stay tuned as this exciting new venture develops.

— Jasmina

Nelson and Pade Donates Lettuce to Area Schools

In celebration of National Farm to School Month, on Monday, Oct. 15, Nelson and Pade Inc. donated more than 100 heads of fresh, aquaponically grown lettuce to the Westfield and Montello public school districts. The lettuce is Certified Naturally Grown in Clear Flow Aquaponic Systems at Nelson and Pade’s greenhouse facility in Montello, Wisconsin. Farms around the country are embracing the Farm to School concept, where students gain access to healthy, local foods as well as education opportunities. This is the fourth year in a row that Nelson and Pade has celebrated National Farm to School Month by sharing its fresh lettuce with nine local public schools.

Self-Assembly Greenhouse Launches in U.S.

Developed by Israeli company Teshuva Agricultural Projects (TAP), TAPKIT is a self-assembly hydroponic greenhouse that will be launched later this month. ” “People are looking for fresh products that leave less of a carbon footprint,” said CEO Avner Shohet. “The TAPKIT is another solution. It can be used for suburban farming where the land is less expensive, making it a cheaper solution, with the added benefit of less energy consumption.” The TAPKIT will be officially introduced at the PMA Fresh Summit in Orlando on Oct. 19-20.

Vertical Farm Coming to Virginia

Founded by Nick Starling, an Iraq invasion war veteran, Skyscraper Farms has a vision to bring sustainable, cost-effective agricultural products to city centers and remote sites in the U.S. by combining cutting-edge vertical farming with high-end, mixed-use real estate. The Virginia-based company specializes in the construction of urban, mixed-use buildings that feature an indoor vertical farm. Skyscraper Farms plans to strategically roll out its first two buildings in northern Virginia. The company is partnering with nearby institutions to offer state-of-the-art laboratory space in each building for development programs.

Jasmina Dolce

Jasmina Dolce is managing editor of GPN magazine. She can be reached at jdolce@greatamericanpublish.com.

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